When we are younger, the picture that is often painted of love and relationships can be misleading. It’s all fairy tales and happy endings. We are blinded with tales of true love and finding the “one”.
We quickly learn the reality: Relationships can be hard work.
Once the initial flush of lust and love wears off, good relationships take a conscious effort and commitment to maintain.
As life throws us curve balls, our partner is usually the one who weathers the storm along side us. This however, can take its toll. The arrival of children, family conflict, illness, work stress and financial issues can all put pressure on a relationship. How a couple works together through challenging times really determines the happiness of both people within the relationship.
As people grow and change, the dynamic of their relationship may also change. Couples in healthy relationships will evolve and continue to work together to ensure their partnership stays on track.
There are some key qualities that make a healthy relationship:
Open communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. With busy lives and competing priorities it can be hard to effectively communicate with each other. Make time to talk without interruptions and speak about things honestly and respectfully. Never expect your partner to know what you are thinking or how you are feeling. Be clear about what you want to say without attacking and likewise, make an effort to understand their point of view without being defensive. Address conflict fairly and don’t hold grudges.
Trust & Honesty
Developing trust is a gradual process. In a healthy relationship there should be mutual trust. It is about being there for each other, understanding what the other person needs and being consistent. Obviously, a large part of building trust is honesty. Avoid little “white lies”, even if your intention is to protect your partner, as this will jeopardise that foundation of trust. Trust and honesty help provide the sense of security and comfort that is so important in healthy relationships.
In a relationship it is imperative to respect each other as individuals, as well as members of your partnership. It is important to support each other’s interests, careers and choices. Valuing the other person’s feelings and needs, as well as respecting personal boundaries are also ways to demonstrate respect. Couples should speak both to and about each other in a respectful way. When you feel respected in a relationship you feel safe and comfortable being yourself.
Equality in relationships isn’t about everything being split equally. It is about maintaining balance. If one person always has more power and control in any aspect of the relationship, this is unbalanced and possibly abuse. Each person should feel comfortable, supported and respected across all aspects of the relationship.
Love, Intimacy and Companionship
More than just a sex life that you both enjoy (which is also important!), intimacy is about being close, showing affection and being able to comfort each other. Sharing experiences and interests will help build feelings of intimacy and companionship. Flirting and continuing to romance each other throughout your relationship are also great ways to keep the flame alive.
Our values are our core personal beliefs that guide our choices through life and are the standards by which we live. It is therefore important that the person with whom we share our life with holds similar values. If not, this will likely be the cause of much conflict in the relationship.
No relationship is perfect and while some may seem like it from the outside, anyone in a healthy relationship can tell you that maintaining it takes dedication from both sides.
Why not take this quiz from LoveisRespect.org to give your relationship a health check? Mens Line Australia also has a healthy relationships quiz that designed for both partners to make sure your relationship is on track.
If your relationship needs some help, there are many great support services out there. Here are just a few:
- Relationships Australia offers great relationship advice and national support services.
- The Family Relationship Advice Line is a government agency providing advice to family about relationship issues, including separation.
- 1800RESPECT is a national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service.